Alien Arena 2011 Released

Alien Arena is a free online first person shooter which was first introduced in 2004. It was based on based on source code released by id Software. Since its release Alien Arena has been downloaded more than 1 million times. It is one of the few games with good graphics which runs natively on Linux.

Alien Arena 2011 is the latest version of the game and was released yesterday. Alien Arena 2011 has a number of new features which includes ragdoll physics using the Open Dynamics physics engine, GNU AutoTools for installation on Linux/Unix/MaxOS and a number of bugfixes from the previous versions.

Here is the official trailer of Alien Arena 2011:

[click here if you cannot see the embedded video]

Alien Arena 2011 is available for Windows and Linux. You can get a list of download mirrors here. For Linux, only the source is available right now. So, you have to compile it yourself.

How To Install Alien Arena 2011 In Ubuntu

To install Alien Arena 2011 from source, first download the source from the link above and extract it. Then open the Terminal and navigate into the extracted directory. Now execute the commands given below:

$ sudo apt-get build-dep alien-arena
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr
$ make
$ sudo make install

To run the game, press ALT+F2 and enter crx.

If you are uncomfortable with compiling from source, you can wait for PlayDeb to make the .deb file available.

Clementine 0.6 Released – Supports Lyrics, Smart Playlist And Monochrome Icon For Ubuntu

Clementine, the music player inspired by Amarok 1.4, has just hit version 0.6. This version is a huge improvement over the previous releases both in terms of features, looks and bug fixes.

Clementine 0.6

Clementine 0.6 has a number of new features. It includes new Song Info and Artist Info tabs. The Song Info fetches the lyrics of the song that is currently playing. In addition it also fetches the tags, statistics and play count of the song from The Artist Info displays biographies of the artist fetched from Wikipedia,, Amazon etc. It also displays photos and similar artists.

Another new feature in Clementine 0.6 is smart playlists. The smart playlist is just a way to create new playlists like – Favorite Tracks, Least Favorite Tracks, Never Played – you get the idea. The library system in Clementine 0.6 has also been improved to keep track of statistics like ratings of the songs, number of times played, skip counts etc. Support for Icecast has also been added with this release. It can be assessed from the Internet tab at the left.

clementine sound menu

In addition to these new features, there are also a few Ubuntu specific changes. The Clementine icon at the system tray is no longer orange. It is now monochrome like all the other icons there. Another change is that Clementine now shows up in Ubuntu’s sound menu.

Install Clementine 0.6 In Ubuntu

Clementine 0.6 is available for Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx and Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. To install it open the terminal and execute the following commands:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:me-davidsansome/clementine
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install clementine

After installation Clementine will be found at Applications > Sound & Video > Clementine.

Ubuntu Linux Gets a Manga Fan Magazine – Ubunchu!

How many Ubuntu fans also like Japanese Manga comics? My guess would be that it’s a pretty high percentage. The author of this comic series, Hiroshi Seo, is apparently a big fan of Ubuntu, the Linux operating system that many of us have come to love.


The love for a great free operating system plays the main role in this Ubuntu Romantic School Comedyseries. I leafed through the first two of the six episodes available. The graphics are well done and the plot is typically adolescent, as I had expected. There’s no need to worry about this series though, I’d rate it as safe for kids to read.

If you are a Linux fan, and you also like Manga, you may want to waste a little time reading Ubunchu.

animals-penguinVisit this site to read Ubunchu! in English and several other languages.

[Via HowToGeek]

Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 Released

As scheduled, the first alpha of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal is available for download. The biggest change from the last stable release (Ubuntu 10.10) is the Unity desktop interface. Unity landed just a few days ago and so it remains quite buggy and rough. In case you do not like Unity, the classic desktop is still available. Unity is now based on Compiz, not Mutter as was the cased in UNE 10.10. This means that Unity feels a bit smoother now.

Other than Unity, there are some changes as well. The Linux kernel has been updated to version 2.6.1937 and Firefox 4 Beta 7 has been included. The indicator menu has also received some changes – nothing drastic just little tweaks.

A change which I absolutely hate is the addition of global menu. I knew it was coming but it feels counter-productive on a large monitor.

All in all, Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 still looks a lot like Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition.

If you want to help out with the testing, you can download it from here. Remember that this is an alpha and should not be installed in a production machine.

(Click here if you cannot see the embedded video.)

Demo Of Wayland Display Server In Ubuntu

Ubuntu is  going  through a lot of changes now. It will use Unity for the desktop instead of GNOME Shell in the next release i.e. Ubuntu 11.04. However one of the biggest changes is that will be replaced by the Wayland Display Server. This is a huge change and will likely take a few years.

Right now Wayland is not stable enough to replace However Kristian Høgsberg, who started the Wayand project,  has made a video of Wayland Display Server running in Ubuntu. Here is the video:

(Click here if you cannot see the embedded video.)

Because of the support that Wayland is now getting, development is going ahead quite nicely. There is even a PPA from where you can install it now.

So, if you are the curious type and want to try it out, here is what you need to do:

[Warning: Wayland is in no way ready for normal usage yet. This is only for testing.]

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/wayland

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install wayland

To launch Wayland from within, execute the following command:


Are Public Libraries Still at Risk Because of Microsoft?

A reason to panic?

public-library-iconBack in April of this year, Yardena Arar posted an article at Windows Secrets titled Microsoft decision puts public libraries at risk.

What did Microsoft do that puts libraries at risk?

They retired Windows SteadyState. In case you haven’t heard about it, SteadyState is a free application for Windows XP and Vista which completely protects a Windows operating system from everything except a hardware crash. It makes Windows almost bullet-proof. Thousands of home users, internet cafes, schools and public libraries depend on SteadyState for protection. However, it won’t be available for Windows 7.

According to Yardena,

… not only is SteadyState incompatible with Win7, Microsoft says it has no plans to introduce a Windows 7-compatible version. That’s leaving some IT managers scrambling for replacement technology and others vowing not to upgrade to Windows 7 at all.

Windows SteadyState is going away?

I recently discovered that it’s not only unavailable for Win7, SteadyState won’t be available after Dec 31st of this year. That’s a twisted Happy New Year’s wish to everyone wanting to use it on XP or Vista. If you plan on using it, be sure to download SteadyState from Microsoft, before it’s too late.

Are there alternatives to SteadyState?

If you settled for the answer given in that Windows Secrets post, you’d give up. In the article, Yardena says:

Third-party solutions, such as Faronics’ Deep Freeze, don’t appeal to cash-strapped educational institutions, which are already spending considerable money upgrading to Windows 7.

Worse yet, if you listen to Microsoft, they’ll tell you that you don’t need it. Here’s the Microsoft spin:

We have just released a whitepaper along with an accompanying document that describes Group Policy settings that you can use to configure computer and user settings and also a reference excel worksheet which can be used to look up and filter the settings described in the whitepaper. (source)

What a load of techno-crap! Does Microsoft think a librarian, teacher, cyber-café owner, or home user is going to read their white papers?

What is my suggestion for replacing SteadyState?

Fortunately, a security company named Comodo, recently released a free replacement for Windows SteadyState. As far as I can tell, Comodo Time Machine does nearly everything SteadyState does. It’s currently supported and works in Windows XP, Vista and 7.

arrow-down-double-3Download Comodo Time Machinecomodo-time-machine-icon_thumb

If you are interested in Comodo’s offer, check out this Video Review of Time Machine.

Why do we need Windows?

Why does a public library need to depend upon Microsoft for all of their software needs? The answer from any Open Source enthusiast would be Get rid of Windows!. If you need some arguments to use against your library’s or school’s addiction to Microsoft, be sure to read about Windows 7 Sins: The case against Microsoft and proprietary software

Use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)

If a librarian or teacher came to me and asked about setting up several public computers , I’d have two ready answers for them. I could save them money and practically guarantee that they wouldn’t have any spyware or virus problems.

edubuntu-icon1. I’d burn a set of Live CD’s with Edubuntu on them. They could disable the hard drives and put these in the CD Rom drives. Whenever the PC boots up, they’d have a fresh new operating system that’s ready to use and kid-proof.

2. I could also install Edubuntu on each PC normally, as this old timer shows in a video.


Microsoft doesn’t have the answer, and they don’t seem to care. However, there’s no reason to worry.   Using either of my recommendations, secure and trouble-free public PCs can be created at no cost.

Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha Is Delayed Due To Change in Release Schedule

The Ubuntu release schedule has been modified to include more intermediate releases. The final release for April 2011 end still holds. However, the new release schedule will include three alpha versions instead of the proposed five alpha versions.

The new release schedule stands as,

December 2nd, 2010 – Alpha 1 release
February 3rd, 2011 – Alpha 2 release
March 3rd, 2011 – Alpha 3 release
March 31st, 2011 – Beta release
April 21st, 2011 – Release Candidate
April 28th, 2011 – Final release of Ubuntu 11.04

With the release of version 11.04, Ubuntu will reach a mature state with better support for ARM devices, multi-touch and a lot more. Ubuntu 11.04 codenamed Natty Narwhal will also include a new Unity Shell that will be seen on the desktop version. However, other Ubuntu forks like Mint are not yet ready to make the switch to Unity.  For developers and software companies, the Ubuntu Software Center in Natty Narwhal support paid apps like the Android and iPhone app markets.

As evident from the release schedule, the first usable release, which is the beta, comes on 31 March next year. This delay, however will hardly affect many regular users, as UI (user interface) changes interest them more than behind the scene changes.


Banshee To Replace Rhythmbox In Ubuntu 11.04 – More Mono!

The Ubuntu Developers Summit at Orlando, Florida is over and now we have the tentative list of the default applications that will ship with Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”. There are no major changes in the default applications – Firefox stays, Evolution is still preferred over Thunderbird etc. Of course the choice of Unity over GNOME Shell for the desktop is a big surprise but that is another thing.

A really surprising change is that the music player Rhythmbox will be replaced by Banshee. There is really nothing wrong with Rhythmbox – in fact it is much better than Banshee in my opinion. So, it is surprising that they have decided to ditch Rhythbox.

And Banshee has a little detail that will make a lot of people cringe – it is a mono application. In spite of Miguel de Icaza’s efforts, mono still remains one technology that a lot of people in the open-source community love to hate. With the inclusion of Banshee, Ubuntu has brought up the mono apps count to three – Tomboy Notes and gbrainy being the other two.

Before the official announcement, there are still some little details like CD space issues to be resolved. In any case, that should be resolved and the replacement of Rhythmbox by Banshee is almost certain.

The choice of Unity for the desktop did not please many people. With the inclusion of more mono apps that number should increase. Natty Narwhal should be an interesting release.

Speed Up Program Installs / Upgrades in Ubuntu

If you’re an Ubuntu power user, you’re probably aware of apt-get. apt-get is a command line tool often used for installing and updating new software in Debian based distributions such as the very popular Ubuntu.

Now, if you’re familiar with apt-get you would have probably noticed that apt-get downloads the files with a single connection. Now what if there was a way a file could be split up into multiple pieces and each piece could be downloaded independently, similar to what download managers such as FlashGet / Internet Download Manager would do ?

Enter apt-fast. apt-fast is an apt-get supplement/replacement script by Matt Parnell. Basically apt-fast does pretty much the same thing as apt-get does, except that the download part of it is handled by axel. The result being that your program installation downloads finish faster. A lot faster. Up to 26-times, according to Matt.

Here are the steps in setting up apt-fast:

Install axel

Even though apt-fast can detect and auto-install axel if it’s not installed, let’s do it by ourselves. As usual, it’s apt-get to the rescue.

sudo apt-get install axel

Download apt-fast script

Download from here. Save it to your home directory.

Setup apt-fast

Before we can start using apt-fast we need so setup certain things – permissions and the like. First, move apt-fast to /usr/bin

sudo mv ~/ /usr/bin/apt-fast

Note: sudo is required here since a regular user does not have permissions to write to /usr/bin directory.

Give permissions to apt-fast to make it executable

sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/apt-fast

Wrapping it up

That’s about all that is required to setup apt-fast. So now, instead of using apt-get to install software, just use apt-fast. Axel will download the software, and apt-get will perform the installation. The below screenshot should how the downloads look like now.

apt-fast downloads

Compiz To Live On With Unity

When GNOME 3 was announced, a redesign of the desktop was proposed. It was decided that the traditional panel based desktop will be replaced by a new user interface called the GNOME Shell.

GNOME Shell is a whole new take on the concept of the desktop and Compiz, one of the most amazing Windows managers (at least in terms of eye candy), had no place in GNOME Shell. KDE SC too already have their own windows manager, KWin, to provide most of the bling that Compiz provided. It seemed that Compiz was doomed to become “a project without a cause”.

Well, Mark Shuttleworth made an announcement which ensures that Compiz will live on. In the Ubuntu Developer Summit – Natty, while announcing that Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop will come with the Unity interface, he also announced that Unity in Ubuntu 11.04 will use Compiz.

Currently, Unity is available in Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. It is based on Mutter, the same technology which GNOME Shell uses. Unity in UNE 10.10 is heavily criticized for a lot of things –  from being too confusing to being slow. According to Canonical, Unity’s slowness is because of Mutter and Mutter is not capable of providing a good enough performance. So, for the next release they will replace mutter with Compiz.

It is good to know that Compiz finally has a proper backing. Although, I have never been a fan of Compiz, it is one of those things which attracts a lot of people to Linux.